High Court approves first leg of Opposition's case against CLF
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissesar (left), Opposition Senator Gerald Ramdeen (right) stand outside the POS High Court on July 13.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has won the first leg of the lawsuit filed against the Children's Life Fund Authority.
On Thursday, Persad-Bissessar led the legal team representing Opposition Senator Wayne Sturge and was successful in her application to seek permission to apply for judicial review against the Authority.
The lawsuit seeks to challenge the CLF’s decision to reject the applications made by the parents of 4-year-old Shannen Luke and 5-year-old Terrence Chandoo, two children suffering from the same genetic blood disorder.
The application was heard at the Port-of-Spain High Court by Justice Nadia Kangaloo. The CLF was represented by Senior Counsel Reginald Armour.
The Court granted permission to apply for judicial review and further ordered that the matter be deemed fit for vacation hearing, due to the high public importance.
Persad-Bissessar informed the Court of the present status of both children who are currently in Italy with their parents preparing for their medical procedures. Both Luke and Chandoo are at the Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital in Rome where they are set to undergo bone marrow transplants.
The Siparia MP submitted that there were two main grounds of challenge; firstly that the Authority was wrong to hold the view that it was “legally precluded” from making reimbursements to beneficiaries of the fund.
Persad-Bissessar referred the Court to the Children’s Life Fund Act, which provides at section 9, that the Board shall,
“establish procedures for applying to the Children’s Life Fund, determining the eligibility for the payment or reimbursements of medical expenses for beneficiaries and processing claim disputes”.
The Opposition Leader also stated that the CLF’s position that the illness of the two children were not life threatening was unreasonable, irrational and contrary to the provisions of the legislation.
Evidence was provided to the Court by two medical doctors, Dr. Ramesh Mathura and Dr. Steve Smith.
The Siparia MP told the Court that the matter should be determined within the shortest possible time as the Claimant (Ramdeen) was ready to proceed, adding that the parents of the children were becoming more financially burdened with each passing day.
Following the court’s decision to grant a speedy hearing, Persad-Bissessar noted that the matter was of national importance, especially given that children are involved.
“This case has consequences not just for the two children, Shannen Luke and Terrance Chandoo, but for the parents of other sick children who may not be able to benefit from funding, if the Children’s Life Fund Authority continues to take the position that persons are not entitled to reimbursements,” she said.
She stated that the Children’s Life Fund Statute contains provisions for reimbursements to be made.
Mrs Persad-Bissessar also promised to continue to fight for the rights of children of Trinidad and Tobago.
The matter was adjourned to the 21st August 2017.